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Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg meets with unhappy players … again


For the second week in a row, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg began his Sunday at the ballpark by having a meeting with an unhappy player.

This time, actually, it was two players.

Sandberg spoke separately with Domonic Brown and David Buchanan before Sunday’s 7-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals (see story). Both players had made comments that were interpreted as being critical of the manager after Saturday night’s game.

Buchanan, a 25-year-old rookie who has made 14 starts in the big leagues, was not happy about being lifted after five innings Saturday night.

“I didn’t expect that and I wasn’t too happy about that,” the right-hander said after throwing 90 pitches and allowing eight hits and two runs.

Buchanan met with Sandberg Sunday morning.

“That’s been addressed,” was all Sandberg would say of the meeting.

The manager also spoke with Brown, who insinuated that his recent decline in playing time contributed to his inability to make a catch in left field Saturday night. That play was followed by Brown’s making a throwing error that led to a run.

“I had a conversation with him on that,” Sandberg said of Brown’s comments. “It was more frustration than anything.”

Brown was back in the lineup Sunday for the ninth time in the last 14 games. He went 1 for 4 with a run scored.

Brown has lost some playing time to Darin Ruf and Grady Sizemore. But Brown has made it easy for Sandberg to sit him by playing shaky defense and hitting just .226 with a .611 OPS for the season.

“I have no beef with Ryno; everything is good,” Brown said after Sunday’s game. “We talked. He just wanted to make sure we’re on the same page and we are. Everything is good. Ryno’s doing a great job.”

Brown did indicate that he’s frustrated.

“I just want to play,” he said. “That’s it. Ryno knows that. It’s tough on him. Grady has been swinging the bat well and Ruf has to play as well. It’s tough for him right now.

“I want to play. I want to be out there. I don’t want days off. I’m not used to that.”

Brown can cure his frustration and get more playing time simply by playing better. The Phillies have given ample time to nail down an outfield job. He could be a fixture in the lineup for years if he would simply produce consistently. The Phillies would like that to happen. It hasn’t and that’s why the team is taking a look at other players.

The comments made by Buchanan and Brown were not the first affronts made against Sandberg’s authority in recent days. A week ago, pitcher Kyle Kendrick showed up Sandberg on the pitcher’s mound in San Francisco. Sandberg met with Kendrick the day after and Kendrick apologized for his actions (see story).

Are these affronts merely the product of a long and frustrating season or does Sandberg have an authority issue with this club?

This is certainly something to keep an eye on as the rest of this season plays out.

Orioles interested in Denard Span

Denard Span
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.

Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.

The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.

Blue Jays showing interest in Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.

Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.

Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.

After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.

Trevor Cahill considering the Pirates as a potential destination

Trevor Cahill
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ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.

It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.

Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.

Blue Jays narrow GM search to two candidates: Tony LaCava and Ross Atkins

Tony LaCava
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Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.

LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.

Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.